cmsThe Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services quietly stopped reporting data this month for eight hospital-acquired conditions formerly published on the agency’s Hospital Compare website, according to an article published by iHealthBeat.

CMS launched its Hospital Compare site in 2005 as a mechanism for providing the public with healthcare quality data like readmission rates and mortality rates for thousands of acute care hospitals across the United States. In 2011, the agency added, to its facility-specific reports, data on eight new HACs including:

  • Air embolism;
  • Blood incompatibility;
  • Catheter-associated infections;
  • Falls and trauma;
  • Foreign objects left in body after surgery;
  • Pressure ulcers;
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar levels; and
  • Urinary tract infections.

Then, last summer (2013), CMS stopped reporting data for these eight conditions via Hospital Compare citing redundancies and specifications of the Affordable Care Act that pointed to a preference for sharing measures identified and endorsed by the National Quality Forum.  CMS did, however, continue to make the data available to quality researchers, patient safety advocates and savvy consumers via a public spreadsheet. It is that spreadsheet that finally became unavailable this month.

This change means that CMS is now reporting data for only 13 measures associated with hospital-acquired conditions including bloodstream infections and post-operative sepsis. As a result, researches will now have to scour insurance claims to extract the additional data needed to calculate their own HAC rates.

An article published by USA Today said that while CMS described the remaining measures to be “more comprehensive and most relevant to consumers,” opponents say the agency should have done more to improve the measures instead of eliminating them. CMS insists it is working on new ways of measuring HACs with the intention of addressing the most commonly occurring adverse events. The problem with that strategy, according to patient advocates, is that the HACs no longer being publicly reported are the conditions that should never happen but do in rare situations, and knowledge of these events is critical to a patient’s ability to make an informed decision as to whether or not a certain hospital is a safe place to obtain needed care.

To learn more and to read the mixed reactions of organizations including the American Hospital Association and the Leapfrog Group, click here.